A Study Seeks to Determine What Makes Prekindergarten Successful

The New York Times:

The teacher held up a card with a number on it, then looked at the 4-year-olds waving their hands eagerly in front of her. “Anderson,” she said, calling on a small boy in a blue button-up shirt and a sweater vest.

“Five,” Anderson said, correctly.

“Good boy, Anderson,” the teacher said. Then she turned to the rest of the class. “Are you ready?” she said, and then, “Go!” At that, the children jumped up and down five times as they counted: “One! Two! Three! Four! Five!”

This exercise, which held a prekindergarten class in Brooklyn riveted one morning last week, was not an effort to introduce high-impact aerobics into preschool. It was part of an ambitious experiment involving 4,000 children, lasting more than six years and costing $25 million, and designed to answer a fundamental question: When it comes to preschool, what actually works?

“We’re motivated by them; we just can’t replicate them,” said Dale Farran, a professor of education and psychology at Vanderbilt University.

Part of the problem is that rigorous research is expensive and time-consuming. The study involving the children in Brooklyn, who attend Public School 221 in Crown Heights, will gauge whether a certain math curriculum can create lasting improvement in students’ math and language skills, as well as their likelihood to persevere in the face of academic challenges. It will track roughly 4,000 children who enter prekindergarten in 69 schools and community-based organizations next fall, and continue following them through at least the third grade. Half of them will get the curriculum, called Building Blocks, and the other half will not. Later on, if there is sufficient funding, a subset of each group will get a supplementary math program in kindergarten, in small groups or in the form of intensive tutoring.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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